2014 Florida Film Festival: Discussions and Parties and Guests, Oh My!

FFF2014LogoI warned you that I would write a couple of angst-filled posts as I contemplated my schedule during the Florida Film Festival. I really like organizing and planning. I’m not always as good at executing those plans, but it doesn’t stop me from making them!  The process of reviewing the options and putting together what I want to do is a sporting event in and of itself, and part of the fun for me.

I’ve always been like this. My family could tell you about our first trip to Walt Disney World, when I was 19 years old. I had the family running back and forth across the parks, based on guidance from The Unofficial Guide to Disney.  I had a written plan in my pocket and as soon as we got off one ride, I would whip it out and declare where we were headed next.  In that case, the plan definitely worked in our favor.  We came during the busiest week of year — between Christmas and New Year’s — and, thanks to my advanced planning, never stood in line longer than about 20 minutes.  Angsting over planning is how I roll.

When I first decided I wanted to attend the Florida Film Festival, I thought I would just attend a bunch of movies. I did not consider the other, non-film events. Over the last couple days, I’ve been poring over the schedule, considering which films to see, and realizing that not only do some of the films I want to see conflict with each other, films also conflict with special events. So now I’ve been thinking about what kind of experience do I want to have? Is it just about the films? Or am I interested in these other events as well?

The other events fall into the three categories of the title: Discussions, Parties, and Guests. Discussions are panels on film-related topics. Parties range from catered food served onsite between films to industry-only parties to opening night and the awards ceremony. Some parties are separately ticketed. ‘Guests’ refers to celebrity events. Frequently, celebrity events are a viewing of a film followed by discussion, but in the past the Film Festival has hosted brunch with a celebrity. This post considers each category, the options available, and my thoughts on whether or not I want to attend.


There’s five discussions scheduled during the film festival.

Locally Fresh!

Saturday, April 5
11 am – 12:30 pm
Ticketed Event: $11, but included for all passholders.

This event provides tastes of local foods and a video of nearby farming communities. Immediately following Locally Fresh!, there’s a farmer’s market which is free and open to the public.

I really care about food. Growing it, preparing it, eating it. I have: purchased food through a CSA from a local farm (the farm stopped offering the CSA after several years so I’m no longer able to do this); volunteered in a commercial hydroponic greenhouse; and shopped at local farmers markets. My husband and I grow lettuce and herbs hydroponically, in a system my husband designed and built. We also have grapes, blueberries, tangerines, lemons, limes, lemongrass, and ginger growing in our yard. I cook, and I often cook from scratch. In the last couple weeks, I have canned strawberry jam made with locally-grown strawberries, made both whole wheat and white bread from scratch, and even made butter.

This event is at a time that doesn’t conflict with any films, it is about a topic that I’m passionate about, and it is included with my pass. I’m definitely going to attend!

Bleary-Eyed and Bushy-Tailed: 1500+ Films in 100+ Days

Wednesday, April 9
11 am – 12:30 pm
Free Event

This is a moderated panel discussion featuring members of the selection committees that pick the films for the Festival. It is at a time that doesn’t conflict with any films. Since this is my first time attending the Festival, a little peek at the people behind the curtain sounds interesting. I’m planning to attend.

Perseverance: Women in the Industry

Thursday, April 10
11 am – 12:30 pm
Free Event

A moderated panel discussion on the challenges women face in the film industry. According to the blurb on the Film Festival’s website, a recent survey found that women comprised only 16% of the directors, writers, producers, editors, and cinematographers, a percentage that is lower than it was in 1998. Only 6% of the top films last year were directed by women, down from 9%. The panelists are all women involved in higher levels of the film industry.

This panel is at a time that doesn’t conflict with any films. I know nothing about the film industry, but am interesting in understanding the issues that will be discussed. I am planning to attend.

Pushing the ‘Curfew’: A Case Study from Short to Feature

Friday, April 11
11 am – 12:30
Free Event

Curfew is a short film that was shown at the 2012 Florida Film Festival. The film has now been expanded into a feature length film, Before I Disappear, which will be screened during the 2014 Florida Film Festival. This event is a talk by the co-producers about the process of turning a short into a feature length film.

This panel is at a time that doesn’t conflict with any films. I know nothing about the film industry, but am interested in understanding creative processes. I will probably attend this event. Since it’s towards the end of the Film Festival, and I know I tend to get overwhelmed late into these types of events, I may end up deciding to skip it.

Filmmaker Forum

Friday, April 11
2 pm – 3:30 pm
Free Event

A moderated panel discussion billed as an exchange of ideas and know-how. Panelists are not identified. This panel is at a time that potentially conflicts with films I want to see. While I don’t know anything about filmmaking, I’m interested in the creative process. I am going to try to fit in this panel.



I’m not really a party person.  I’m an introvert. People who know me might laugh at that, because I can be very social and talkative. However, it takes energy for me to do that, and I need solitude to build up my energy. It is also easy for me to talk with people I know, but very hard for me to start up conversations with people I’m meeting for the first time. Finally, I have a hard time hearing people, even people standing close to me, when in a large group of chatting people. I end up having to read lips or to ask people to repeat themselves. (My sister is an audiologist who is now in medical school; she says this is a filtering problem rather than a physical hearing loss.) Due to these factors, cocktail parties are among my worst nightmares.  But not all the Film Festival parties are those kind of parties.

Opening Night Party

Friday, April 4
8 pm – 2 am
Film & Party ticket: $110 (included with Platinum pass)
Film ONLY ticket: $25 (included with Cinephile pass)
Party ONLY ticket: $95

Showing of The Trip to Italy followed by food and drinks and music. As I mentioned in the Review of the Preview, I am not able to attend Opening Night. I will be flying home from Austin, TX that evening. Even if I was here, I would probably go to the film and skip the party. This is a cocktail-style party, aka, My Worst Nightmare Party, plus it would set me back another $95. Paying that much to attend a party that will not be fun for me was never going to happen.

Locally Fresh! Farmers Market

Saturday, April 5
12:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Free Event

Since I’m attending the Discussion immediately before this market, I’m definitely going to walk through it. I’m hoping I will be able to get lunch there before my first film at 1:30. I expect it will be too hot for me to buy produce to bring home, though. I will be attending films all day, straight through until at least 10 pm, and early April in Florida is usually 80-something Farenheit.

Sunday Brunch Buffet

Sunday, April 6
11 am – 2 pm
$13.99 for buffet & a mimosa

I’m not yet sure if I will attend this event. My first film is at 12:30, at the Regal Cinema just down the street from the Enzian, so technically I could attend it. But I could just as easily eat breakfast at home and go straight to my first film. I will probably go with that option because I’m going to be eating a couple meals a day out for most days of the festival and I’m not looking to eat out for the sake of eating out.

Italian Cinema Night

Monday, April 7
6:30 pm Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion ($11)
8:00 pm Tasting Reception (Free)
9:30 pm Cheatin’ ($11)

Sounds fun, but I’m not planning to attend. Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion won the 1971 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Since I can watch it on my own I’m planning to attend different films during that time. I may or may not see Cheatin’, but if I do it will be at a different screening time.

Whole Foods Market Tasting Reception

Tuesday, April 8
8 pm – 9:15 pm
Free Event

I am attending films that are immediately before and immediately after this event, so I will check it out between films.

Wednesday Night Pitcher Show: The Big Lebowski

Wednesday, April 9
6 pm – 8 pm Happy Hour (cash bar)
8 pm – 10:30 pm Film (Free)

The Wednesday Night Pitcher Show is a regular part of the schedule at the Enzian Theater. It is a free outdoor movie on the lawn outside the theater. Since I can see this movie any time, I am planning to see a Festival film during this time and will not be attending this event.

Filmmaker Welcome Party

Thursday, April 10
8 pm – 11 pm
By Invitation Only

Invitations are extended to Filmmakers, Industry, Special Guests, and Platinum Pass Holders. I am a Cinephile Pass Holder, so not on the invitation list!

Industry Party

Friday, April 11
8 pm – 11 pm
By Invitation Only

Invitations are extended to Filmmakers, Industry, Special Guests, and Platinum Pass Holders. Again, I’m not on the invitation list!

Awards Bash

Saturday, April 12
8 pm – 12 am
8 pm Awards Ceremony
8:30 pm – 10 pm Dinner buffet and cash bar
10 pm to 12 am Live DJ, cash bar, Celluloid Circus (a pop-up theme park)
$45 in advance or $50 on day of event

I will have to choose between attending this event and attending films. I am inclined to go to the films.

Sunday Brunch Buffet

Sunday, April 13
11 am – 2 pm
$13.99 includes buffet and a mimosa

My first film of the day starts at 12:00. Maybe. I might not go to that film. If I don’t go to it, my first film is at 2 pm. As on the first Sunday, I’m likely to eat at home and go straight to my film.


As I wrote in the Review of the Preview, the Florida Film Festival announced two guests: Giancarlo Esposito and Paul Sorvino. The Festival is in discussions with other celebrities, and additional guests may be announced as we get closer to Opening Night.

An Evening with Giancarlo Esposito

Sunday, April 6
7:30 pm – 10:30 pm
$11 (the regular price to attend a film); included with pass

A screening of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, first released 25 years ago, in which Esposito plays Buggin’ Out, followed by a discussion with Esposito.

I have to choose between attending this event and attending films. At this point, it looks like I can attend other screenings of the films that are showing at the same time as the event, so I will probably attend the event.

Paul Sorvino

Friday, April 11
4:15 pm – ?
$11; included with pass

A screening of Last I Heard, a recent film starring Sorvino. Right now, the Festival’s website just says that Sorvino will be in attendance. I’m assuming there will be a discussion with him after the film also.

This one is tough. I’m more interested in seeing Sorvino than I am in seeing Esposito. However, I have to choose between attending this event and attending films. Two films I want to see — Gabrielle and Slingshot, both of which I mentioned in the Review of the Preview, Part 2 — are playing at the same time as the Sorvino event. Gabrielle and Slingshot each show twice, but there’s conflicts with other films during the other showings, and they conflict with each other in this time slot, so my best case scenario is to see only one of them.

This is my serious point of angst with scheduling right now. I am thinking I will not attend the Sorvino event, but I’m still playing with the series of scheduling dominos, and may yet find another solution.

Oh My!

There’s so much going on during the Festival! And I haven’t even discussed the main events: the films. I am still working my way through the various options.  Of the 170 films playing during the Festival, 50-ish are feature length (longer than 40 minutes, including credits) and the rest are shorts.  A handful of shorts are screened prior to the start of a feature length film.  The remaining shorts are grouped into 11 thematic blocks.  Each block is 1.5 – 2 hours long and consists of 3 – 15 shorts.  During the Festival, I will be focusing on attending features and will not get to most of the shorts.

Between now and the start of the Festival, I am planning several blog posts.  One blog post will discuss the features that I do not expect to attend.  One blog post will discuss the features I expect to attend.  I am also planning one blog post per thematic blocks of shorts.  On April 4 I will post my viewing schedule for the Festival.  Once the Festival starts, I plan to post at least one post a day, describing any events I attended and reviewing the films I saw.

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